Sixteen CU/NREL Energy Research Seed Grants Selected For Funding

May 7, 2007

Sixteen renewable energy and sustainability research projects involving faculty and students at the University of Colorado at Boulder and scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been selected for funding beginning this summer.

Topics of winning proposals include developing new materials for photo-conversion and hydrogen storage, improving control of wind turbines, quantifying air-quality changes from plug-in hybrid cars and planning for the impacts of a major solar facility in Colorado's San Luis Valley. They were chosen from 58 proposals submitted to the CU/NREL Seed Grant Program last fall and are being funded with $726,000 from CU-Boulder, the CU System and NREL.

The research proposals were developed following a CU/NREL research symposium last October involving nearly 500 researchers and 170 poster presentations, said CU-Boulder Vice Chancellor for Research Susan Avery. The proposals were then reviewed by a panel of experts from CU, NREL and private industry, who selected the winners.

"Researchers around the world have stepped up their efforts to develop new renewable and sustainable energy strategies in recent years, in large part because of Earth's dwindling fossil fuel resources and the negative impacts of climate change," said Avery, who is also dean of the Graduate School. "We believe the projects we have selected for funding will contribute to finding new solutions to these challenges."

Each project was evaluated for intellectual merit, including relevance, creativity, significance, soundness and likelihood of successful completion, said Carl Koval, faculty director of CU's Energy Initiative who supervised the review process. Other factors considered during the review included the potential for continued research activity and the potential development of new collaborations, he said.

"Making decisions about which projects to fund was difficult because we had so many good proposals," said Koval, a professor in CU-Boulder's chemistry and biochemistry department. "Thanks to the efforts of the reviewers, I believe we chose the top projects for funding."

The Seed Grant Program is part of a statewide effort to increase the amount of interaction between Colorado's research universities and NREL, said Koval. In February, NREL, CU-Boulder, Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Mines signed an agreement forming the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory to promote research and commercialization.

Stan Bull, associate director of Renewable Electricity Science and Technology at NREL, has been actively involved in the effort and helped with the Seed Grant reviewing process and project selection. "Scientists at NREL have been working in key renewable energy areas for years, and we welcome interactions with university faculty and students," said Bull. "The Research Symposium and Seed Grant Program have created a host of new collaborative research directions between our institutions.

The Collaboratory agreement calls for increasing the production and use of energy from renewable resources, supporting state and national economic growth with renewable energy industries and building renewable energy economies in Colorado and the nation. The four institutions are working with public agencies, private enterprise and other colleges and universities in the state, said Avery.

Titles and investigators for the seed grant projects can be found on the Web at: